Pandemic exacerbated eating disorders for many people

Crystal Kirschman of Emily Wish in Great Falls
Posted at 6:24 PM, Apr 07, 2021

GREAT FALLS — While life is slowly returning back to normal after a year of Covid, health officials say people who struggled with eating disorders during the pandemic may continue to cope with the aftermath.

According to a September report by NPR, eating disorders are thriving during the pandemic, with calls to the National Eating Disorders Association up 70-80% in recent months.

Specialists at Emily Wish, a Great Falls-based clinic, say phones have been ringing constantly over the past year. The clinic specializes in treating eating disorders and has grown during Covid.

Founder Crystal Kirschman says they had a telehealth system in place before the pandemic hit Montana. They've hired more dieticians, therapists, and interns to help a number of new clients around the state and the U.S.

When it comes to eating disorders, Kirschman says sudden changes to a daily routine can increase stress and anxiety, which can be triggers.

“Eating disorders thrive in isolation and secrecy, so it's kind of a forced isolation of being home, maybe a lack of support system in the home, not being able to go out and see people that they normally would, that would be helpful,” she said. “Definitely lack of access to care now, too."

Kirschman says if you’re struggling, remember that you’re never alone; she also says that finding a self-care routine that works for you is key.